Tag Archives: poor

OK. My Post May Suck. But You Suck More.

At the bottom of the posts in WordPress there is a handy-dandy little feature where you can rate the post. One to five stars, rating the post as: very poor, poor, average, good and excellent. It’s not a very scientific rating system but it might give you some insight into what your readers enjoy.

Or not enjoy.

Or when they’re feeling just plain mean.

And they take it out on you. (With no reflection on your writing abilities, of course.)

This happened to me fairly recently. And I was stymied.

A click that my post was poor. Two stars.

Who does that?

And why?

When I see that handy little feature at the bottom of your posts, and I’m particularly pleased with what I’ve just read, I click good, or more typically, excellent. Five stars. If I think what you’ve written is dull, I completely skip the rating feature. I mean, who am I to deem your writing “poor?” I’m assuming most of you just skip this step if you’re bored with what I write.

Hence, the unscientific comment about the rating system.

Now, if there are lots and lots of votes on a particular post I might, I might click a less than favorable star to show my true feelings, just to make the rating system a little more legit.

But if no one has voted yet?

If not a single soul has taken the time to vote and my vote would be the very first one I would never, ever do this…

As in, two stars equals a poorly written post.

That’s just mean.

OK. Fine. My post sucks.

But do you know what?

You suck more for being just-plain-mean.

(A extra-special, heartfelt thank you to BigLittleWolf at Daily Plate of Crazy for her tireless help with the meager graphics for this particular post. Techno-dolt (that’s me) took a full 2 hours to try to do what she did in about – oh, say 2 minutes. I bow down to her greatness! You should, too!)


Filed under Blogging

Money For Nothin’ And Givin’ For Free

Remember when my blog exploded because of a little Random Act of Kindness post?

Remember how I promised a post on the random comments I received?

Well, here it is.

I’m tempted to just end it here. Leave you in suspense. But what suspense? Oh, sure. I got the same crazy spam that prompted this post. Or this one, when I thought aliens were sending me spam.

Then there was the 2000 word comment. (I’m not kidding. I cut and paste it and put it into Word so it would count the words for me.)  A 2000 word, nonsensical comment. Just a string of 2000 words. Who does that? And why?

But quite honestly, most of the spam I received was of your garden variety.

Except for one.

A comment from someone who claimed to have been a sexual slave for 18 months in Morocco. She began listing her financial troubles and general woes. And then she shared that she was praying that someone might bestow upon her, some random act of kindness – in the form of a couple hundred dollars. She ended her comment with this line: “Love to Jane and everyone who agrees with her talent of giving for free.”

That comment has been gnawing at me for over a week now. Is it real? Should I have let her comment appear? Why did I feel so strongly about censoring it?

Is it real? – Who knows. We can never know. There is so much deceit and scam running rampant on our internet waves. It’s hard to tell.

Should I have let her comment appear? – No. Then why am I telling you about it now? Maybe I want to be absolved of any guilt should it have been a true cry for help. Maybe I want her to see this post so she can hear me say, there are other places to go to for the kind of help you need. And then, when I write that response, I start to feel silly. Of course it was another scam.

Why did I feel so strong about censoring it? – “Giving for free.” Handouts. The old story about giving a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. (Oh, don’t I sound like a hardened, old Republican? Shudder.)

I was a member of the Junior League in our area. No. I wasn’t one of those bored doctor’s wives, looking for a few volunteer gigs to put on my resume. I was a single mom, passionate about giving back to my community. The years I was in the league we had out-of-this-world, amazing leadership. True givers. Movers and shakers. I learned skills about organizing and getting things done that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else.

I also learned that there are tons and tons and tons of resources out there for the downtrodden. For the infirm. For the poor. And they’re not that hard to find.

The world owes me. Stick it to the man. If I can get away with it, why not? Who does it hurt?

It hurts me. Most of all, it hurts you.

There are people out there, families truly hurting. Living each day without knowing if the next day will bring food or shelter. I am much more willing to help someone who is desperately trying to eek out a living – pounding the pavement, visiting soup kitchens and United Way and free health clinics and applying for food stamps when necessary – than someone standing in front of me with their hand out saying I owe them because I should be kind. Or because I have more.

I am much more willing to help someone who is taking responsibility for their destiny than someone who wants to ride coattails.

Oh, goodness. I sound like a cold, hard, witch.

I’m not. Really.

 I’m just wondering when personal responsibility will be in vogue again.


Filed under Blogging, Ponderings, Soapbox

The Harder I Work The Luckier I Get

Not that I expected there to be a part 2 to yesterday’s post but some of your comments got me thinking (a dangerous thing, for sure!)

As TKW pointed out, even though we were now living the big life, frugality was still ingrained in my parents minds. We went from a tiny bungalow in a working class neighborhood to a large 5 bedroom ranch house on an acre lot. Our new subdivision had homes with circular driveways, large ponds, and impeccable landscaping. It was quite a leap for us. I remember thinking we lived in the country (we didn’t) because our mailbox was on fancy post down at street level. The mail truck drove to each home. No more walking mailman sticking our mail in a tiny box to the right of the doorbell.

Maybe it’s genetic (I’m Scot-Irish, like Mel!) or maybe the early example my parents provided made an impression but my shame about the imitation Sir Jac jacket didn’t last long. I let the twitters at school die down, started wearing my beloved jacket again and guessed that all was forgotten. We were now known as “new money.” It was as if  ‘all was well with the world’ now that we had been rightfully labeled.

I’d like to think growing up where I did didn’t change me for the worse. I took some amazing things from my childhood to make me who I am today but there are some attitudes I held I’m not proud of. I remember once in college, talking on the phone to my sister at length. She had a few scholarship offers to some major universities and she needed advice. After I hung up the phone my roommate (who grew up in inner-city Detroit and was the first to attend college in her family) said, “Oh! Your sister is going to college?” with a genuine smile and excitement in her voice. I snootily replied, “Is she going to college? No – WHERE is she going to college.”

And by now, my parents attitudes had changed. It was now important to them that we date only the boys from “good” (financially well off) families. When I told them my plans of majoring in education they scoffed, “Well, you better marry well. You’ll never make any money in THAT profession.” My father (who I adored) actually said, “Why in the world would you want to teach? You’re so bright. You know what they say, Those who can – do. Those who can’t – teach.” It was the first time I had ever heard that horrid phrase. I was crushed.

It took moving away from my home state and traveling 1500 miles across the country to cause a major shift in my attitude. 

Driving through West Virginia I saw a shack that looked like it could blow over with the right puff of wind. I wistfully began imagining what it would have looked like when someone lived there. Flowers outside the front stoop, fresh paint on the shutters, no trash littering the yard. Then, to my surprise, a man appeared at the doorway. Shirtless, holding a beer, scratching his belly. A TV was on inside. I was stunned that someone could be living there. That it could possibly have running water and electricity.

In Savannah, while on my way to work one day, I drove past a row of townhouses downtown. Every other one was boarded up. Gang graffiti decorated some of the boards holding it together. I was stuck at a light when out of the corner of my eye I saw a woman emerge from one of the buildings, clutching her handbag, dressed beautifully in a pale pink suit, ivory silk blouse, well-worn but tasteful leather pumps. She raced to catch the bus that was stopped just ahead of me.

People actually live this way? Their dwellings could hardly be called homes. I realized even in my family’s poorest of times, when all of us crammed into one bedroom – we were rich.

I ended up teaching at a small private high school. I loved it. I made a modest salary. And that was OK with me. But the way I was treated by some of the parents was horrible. Less than. Below. It was like an amazing social experiment to me – observing these people who lived the way I was raised, but they didn’t know. I felt like a spy on a covert operation. I was just a teacher, aspiring to be just like them, they imagined. I attended a charity fundraiser and happened to be standing next to a parent from our school. We were looking over some of the silent auction items and I made an observation about the quality of a beautiful sweater set, complete with jeweled collar. She turned to me, stunned, and said, “That’s quite observant for someone on a teacher’s salary!”

My daughter went to the same school. One day, she came home and said, “Mommy? Are we poor?” Of course not, I told her. Why do you say that? She said, “Because we only have one TV.” I explained to her that we chose to only have one TV. We chose to live where we did. We loved what we did for a living – excess money is not important. What is important is doing what you love, having good health and a safe, warm place to lay your head at night. It was in that moment that I made sure we started volunteering at the local soup kitchen more regularly so my daughter could see what “poor” truly was.

I’m not sure a 6-yr-old cared about my explanation and soup kitchen example. She was more impressed with the nannies, TV in every room, and gorgeous homes that her friends lived in.

My husband works in health care. He practices Chinese Medicine (yes, I know, voodoo to some of you). I giggle when I hear some of your impressions out there, “He’s not a real doctor.” No, not in the Western sense. And we’ll certainly never live the lifestyle of a Western trained surgeon. But we live a very comfortable life. And I can afford to stay home with my children, which I love being able to do. And my kids can have music lessons and play on sports teams and attend private school.

I’ve ridden the financial roller coaster at various times in my life. And I used to feel guilty whenever I noticed that I was among “the haves.” I used to call myself blessed or lucky. But I am no more blessed or lucky than the man scratching his gut on the porch of that shack. Even being lucky is relative. My parents worked hard to provide the best they could for us. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am. My husband works very hard to afford the things we can afford. 

Samuel Goldwyn once said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” We’ve worked hard to get where we are today. And hopefully, our example will encourage our children to do the same.


Filed under How We Roll, Observations

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor – But Then What?

A post over at My Wildlife’s Words  got me thinking. My grandfather used to volunteer much of his time at soup kitchens and homeless shelters. But he never gave money, outright, to someone who was panhandling. I asked him why. And he said to me, “Because you never know if they’re going to do the right thing with it. Before you can help them they need to know how to help themselves.” He always did a litmus test with people begging for change. He’d tell them no, but if they wanted he would buy them a bowl of soup. If they took him up on the offer of a bowl of soup he’d buy them a meal, give them information on where he volunteered and often slipped them more money. If they turned him down he knew they weren’t ready to be helped.

But in my younger days I still gave them money any time they asked. And naive little me, visiting the Detroit Art Institute was approached by a gentleman who had run out of gas. Please? he pleaded, My wife and kids are sitting in the car. We just need enough gas to get home. I handed him a 5 dollar bill. He thanked me and approached another couple with the same story. I just assumed that he need more than $5 in gas to get home. We toured the gallery and walked to a nearby place for lunch. Crossing the street I see the desperate gentleman I had been approached by earlier, sitting with this buddy, drinking something out of a brown paper bag. I’d been had.

So I became jaded. I refused anyone who approached me for money. I wasn’t about to do my grandfather’s litmus test. Me? A lone female taking strange men or women to lunch? But I volunteered at our local homeless shelter, serving lunch a few times a month. I donated to causes that meant something to me.

I remember one particular Thanksgiving my sisters and I all met at my parent’s house in Louisville. My sister and I had to run out to the store. On our way, in an abandoned parking lot was an old station wagon. The back was made into a makeshift sleeping loft. Clothes and personal belongings were heaped in garbage bags. A woman dressed in tattered clothing sat outside her car with a sign begging for money. No work, she claimed. They lost their home. Trying to make it back home to California. Two children, in equally tattered clothing sat beside her. My sister cried, “Stop! We need to help them.” I kept driving and told her, no.  She was annoyed. And in the grocery store she grabbed her own cart and filled it with food. She insisted on stopping on our way home to give them the food. The woman tried to look grateful but told my sister what they really needed was money. Embarrassed, my sister reached into her purse and handed her a twenty. She tried again to leave the food but the woman refused. Puzzled, my sister got back in the car and we drove home in silence.

Later that night, on the evening news, was a story about that very woman. Evidently, a reporter followed her “home.” She used her electric garage door opener to shuttle her car away to safety. And then, presumably, entered her home. A very nice home. A very nice neighborhood. Homes with 3 car garages. Manicured lawns. When the reporter tried to interview her the door was slammed in his face. But of course, he had more information. It was estimated that she scammed $30,000 a year. Her husband was gainfully employed. She was well-known for several haunts, using different stories and signs.  And she used her children in this scam especially around the holiday season.

While visiting Savannah recently we were in a very nice specialty food store. They had gourmet jams and jellies. Wine and sweets. They also had a deli with hot and cold food. A man approached me and my son. He asked for money for some food. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to teach my child about helping someone in need. My husband was close by. There were plenty of people in the store and I could use my grandfather’s litmus test and feel safe using it if the man took me up on my offer to buy him a meal. He did take me up on my offer. We approached the counter so he could tell the server what he wanted. The server refused. I told him, No. This is my friend and I’m buying him a meal. The server still refused and told me panhandling is illegal. I told him I offered to buy him a meal. Reluctantly, he gave the man the food and I paid for it. But then he sternly told the panhandler to leave the store and never come back. And then sternly told me it was against the law to give money to panhandlers. There was a stiff fine and it was posted all over the city. I guess if they discouraged people from giving money to panhandlers they would leave and try elsewhere. So much for the lesson for my son. It turned into a big lesson for me.

Help or not to help? And who is it helping? I worked in the employment industry for a short time. Couple that experience with any of the charity work I’ve done I’ve learned there are people who want to help themselves and a “handout” will tide them over until they can make it on their own. And I’ve learned there are others that simply want the handout. Many people who need the help don’t know it exists. This country is a country of enablers. We want to reach out to others (Give me your tired, your poor). But we need to do a better job of making sure that the people who need it know where to find help. Most of all, we need to help create a society that doesn’t expect or rely on handouts to get by.


Filed under Be-Causes

Everything’s Amazing, Nobody’s Happy

Evidently this has been around for about 7 months. But it’s late night tv and I don’t do late night tv. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, I just can’t keep my eyes open past 10:30pm. And TiVo or DVR? Our DVR is already 91% full with junk we haven’t watched yet but think we’re actually going to make time for. So, no room for late night tv on our DVR.

Comedian Louis C.K. shares his take on our skewed sense of reality. Amazing things are going on all around us and we take them for granted. Along these lines I’m reading a great book called “Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression.” little heathens

And now that I’m reading this book it annoys me even more when people try to compare the times we’re living in now, this “great” recession, to the Great Depression. I realize times are very tough now. Tougher than we’ve seen it in a very, very long time. But our great country is still, even in these “hard” times, so incredibly blessed. I recently listened to a story on the BBC World News commenting on a woman trying to feed her family in a small village in India. All they had to eat were lentils with water. Every meal. Every day. A segment on 60 Minutes years ago interviewed America’s poor. They interviewed the poor of NYC. America’s poor didn’t have their own health insurance – but they had Medicaid. They couldn’t afford to go out to eat – but they had food stamps. They lived in NY City and they didn’t have a car, but they had cable. Before I’m blasted for my comments let me say I am very aware that people are struggling every day in this country. I’m just saying that maybe, just maybe, there are some of us out there that need to readjust our perception. What IS poor? What IS tragic?

And so you can blast me armed with a little background knowledge let me put it out there that both my husband and I are college educated. But we worked for our education, paying for it through student loans and part-time jobs.  My husband makes enough money so that I can stay home with our children. We have a nice home and two cars. But it wasn’t always this way. And for a while, I was a single mother, teaching at a private school, making just above poverty level. In fact, if my car had been 2 years older I would have qualified for food stamps. But I didn’t feel poor. When I was very young I grew up in a home where all four of us kids slept in the only bedroom and my parents slept on a pull out couch in the living room. We rotated four meals throughout the week: spaghetti, mac and cheese, spanish rice and hotdogs and beans. My grandparents had to help us out periodically and I remember so looking forward to going to their house to be able to eat something different and have fresh fruit! Even then, I didn’t feel poor.  

It’s our perception. The reality hides in Zimbabwe, Somalia, the ghettos of India. What most of us enjoy today many in the world view as a luxury: fresh fruit and vegetables, more than three outfits, two pairs of shoes. A book to read. A television to watch. A refrigerator to keep things fresh.

What we enjoy today IS amazing!

Go here (on YouTube) to see this very funny video. Evidently, if I post it here I’m violating some copyright laws. Oops! (And here I display a Blog With Integrity badge……slinking off very quietly now. Sorry!)


Filed under Soapbox, Uncategorized